(M) Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz

It’s hard to resist the Bourne-again pun: this latest entry into the hugely successful franchise, originally starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, has taken the story in a new direction.

The idea that there is a variety of CIA intelligence programs among which Treadstone was but an early development seems plausible enough.

The Bourne Legacy slowly reveals it is set at the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum.

In fact, if you have forgotten the plot points and supporting characters of the previous film, take the time to either watch it again or read about it online before heading into the new feature.

Jason Bourne’s escapades threaten to throw the multiple CIA operations out in the open and the shadowy powers are frantically trying to sweep them under the rug before either Congress or the press start asking questions.

Eric Byer (Edward Norton) orders the termination of Outcome, the new series of super-agent represented by Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Instead of telling the agents to pack up and go home the CIA chooses a course of action more final.

Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is one of a number of scientists seeking ways to alter chromosomes to enhance the physical and mental attributes of those involved in Outcome. When the operation is shelved so are all the scientists involved in it, meaning Shearing is now on the run herself.

Writer and director Tony Gilroy veers from the Ludlum source material in order to make this fit within the framework with varying degrees of success. The addition of the sci-fi elements of the development of the superhuman agents seems to lack the credibility of the original idea. Jason Bourne wasn’t a super soldier.

These films are generally about momentum so, once the lengthy exposition is out of the way and the chase is on, Legacy becomes much like the other three. This one particularly moves along at a cracking pace with one of the most complex chase sequences shot in the streets of Manilla, first on foot, then on motorbike.

For The Bourne Legacy, Renner joins fellow series newcomers Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Oscar Isaac, while franchise veterans Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn reprise their roles as the members of Treadstone and Blackbriar.

Jeremy Renner brings the same physicality and intensity to the role of Cross that Damon did with Bourne.

Perhaps the clever conceit of setting this film in the same time period of Ultimatum keeps the story working; it’s hard to imagine how they are going to stop making subsequent films feel redundant though.

We Aussies are treated to a totally random cameo by Shane Jacobsen of Kenny fame — something to keep an eye out for in the last third of the film.

This is an enjoyable, if predictable, cat and mouse chase film — a genre itself reinvigorated by the Bourne films.

There are a few problems with Legacy, the major one being it doesn’t have an ending, leaving it clear that there will have to be a sequel. To leave every plot piece up in the air as the credits role is a cheat that doesn’t satisfy.

If you can forgive this, then it’s probably worth your time.

Adrian Drayton


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